The Safety of Legal Abortion and the Hazards of Illegal...

The Safety of Legal Abortion and the Hazards of Illegal Abortion
Someone gave me the phone number of a person who did abortions and I made the arrangements. I
borrowed about $300 from my roommate and went alone to a dirty, run-down bungalow in a dangerous
neighborhood in east Los Angeles. A greasy looking man came to the door and asked for the money as
soon as I walked in. He told me to take off all my clothes except my blouse; there was a towel to wrap
around myself. I got up on a cold metal kitchen table. He performed a procedure, using something sharp.
He didn’t give me anything for the pain — he just did it. He said that he had packed me with some gauze,
that I should expect some cramping, and that I would be fine. I left.1
-Polly Bergen, discussing the illegal abortion in the 1940s that
rendered her infertile and nearly proved fatal.
As part of their strategy to make abortion illegal and unavailable, anti-choice forces make
unsubstantiated claims that legal abortion is harmful to women’s health. The fact is that the
decriminalization of abortion in the United States in 1973 has led to tremendous gains in
protecting women’s health. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences
declared in its first major study of abortion in 1975 that “legislation and practices that permit
women to obtain abortions in proper medical surroundings will lead to fewer deaths and a
lower rate of medical complications than [will] restrictive legislation and practices.”2 The
American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs reaffirmed this finding in 1992
when it attributed the marked decline in deaths from abortion services to “the shift from illegal
to legal abortion,” along with the introduction of antibiotics and the widespread use of effective
contraception in the 1960s.3 Furthermore, the experience in the United States is very similar to
that in Western Europe, where mortality rates from abortion services were reduced after legal
abortion became widely available.4
In the years since Roe v. Wade was decided, thousands of American women’s lives have been
saved by access to legal abortion care. Nonetheless, Roe and the availability of legal abortion
services, as well as the progress women have achieved for reproductive freedom, are under
constant attack. Mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling requirements, restrictions on
young women’s access, costly and unnecessary regulations, and limited public funding have
had a cumulative impact, making it increasingly difficult for women to obtain safe abortion
care. Aggravating the problem, the number of abortion providers continues to decline; 5 antichoice forces have created an atmosphere of intense intimidation and violence that deters
physicians from entering the field and has caused others to stop providing abortion services.6
The most recent, tragic example was the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider,
in Wichita, Kansas. Ironically, many of those now raising alarms about the supposed dangers
of abortion are the very people whose public policy suggestions would make exercising
reproductive rights more hazardous. In pushing for complete bans on safe and medically
appropriate abortion services, anti-choice forces reject exceptions to protect a woman’s health.7
They aim to restrict access to mifepristone (RU 486), a safe early option for nonsurgical abortion,
or take it off the market altogether. They deny public funding for abortion services even when
continuing the pregnancy would endanger a woman’s health. They put up roadblocks for
young women that jeopardize teens’ health and can force them to delay abortion care or even,
in some cases, take drastic measures. They construct barriers for all women with statemandated biased counseling and mandatory-delay requirements that can force women to
unnecessarily delay the procedure. With these restrictions in place, women’s reproductive
health is in serious danger.
Legal Abortion is a Safe Medical Procedure
 The legalization of abortion in the United States led to the near elimination of deaths from
the procedure.8 Between 1973 and 1997, the mortality rate associated with legal abortion
procedures declined from 4.1 to 0.6 per 100,000 abortions.9 The American Medical
Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs credits the shift from illegal to legal abortion
services as an important factor in the decline of the abortion-related death rate after Roe v.
Eighty-eight percent of abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and nearly 99
percent occur during the first 20 weeks. Earlier abortion is associated with fewer mortality
and morbidity risks.11
Studies of abortion services worldwide found that abortion-related deaths are rare in
countries where the procedure is legal, accessible, and performed early in pregnancy by
skilled providers.12
The Safety of Mifepristone
In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug mifepristone
(originally known as RU 486) for the termination of very early pregnancy. Mifepristone,
which is distributed under the brand name Mifeprex®, is approved for use during the first
seven weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. Mifepristone does not
require an invasive procedure or surgery and requires no anesthesia.
In the 13 years since FDA approval of mifepristone, more than one million U.S.
women have used the drug for safe and effective nonsurgical abortion care.13
Meanwhile, millions of women worldwide have used mifepristone safely. 14
Mifepristone is extremely safe. Side effects are similar to the complications of a
natural miscarriage, and in the unusual case that the abortion is incomplete, the very
safe and common procedure of a surgical abortion is recommended.15
Serious side effects with mifepristone are quite rare. Its safety record is much better
than many other drugs or procedures.16
The Post-Abortion “Syndrome” Myth
For years, anti-choice lawmakers have attempted to prove the existence of “post-abortion
syndrome,” a supposed psychological phenomenon that has never been shown to exist by
any legitimate scientific or medical study. In fact, these claims have been disproven by a long
line of credible, scientific research.
In 1987, President Reagan asked Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to study the matter. Dr.
Koop reviewed some 250 studies on the topic of alleged “post-abortion syndrome.” Despite
powerful political pressure to identify such a syndrome, and his own personal anti-choice
beliefs, Dr. Koop concluded that “the data do not support the premise that abortion does or
does not cause or contribute to psychological problems.”17
A 1992 American Psychological Association (APA) review found that severe negative
psychological reactions to abortion are rare and that the vast majority of women experience
a mixture of emotions after an abortion, with positive feelings predominating.18 These
findings were reaffirmed in 2008 when, after a two-year review of the “best scientific
evidence published,” APA’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion found that a
woman who chooses abortion is at no greater risk for mental-health problems than if she
chooses to carry an unintended pregnancy to term. In considering the psychological
implications of abortion, the task force recognized that women face complex and diverse
circumstances when making decisions about their reproductive health, which may lead to
variability in women’s psychological reactions.19
A 1997 longitudinal study concurred, showing that the experience of abortion has no
independent effect on the psychological well-being of a woman.20
A study published in 2000 revealed that two years after the procedure, 72 percent of the
women surveyed were satisfied with their decision to have an abortion, 69 percent said they
would have the abortion again, and 72 percent reported more benefit than harm from their
abortion. The small proportion of women who did experience problems tended to have a
prior history of depression.21
In 2004, at a Senate hearing on the impact of abortion on women, Dr. Nada Stotland — a
psychiatrist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology who has devoted most of her career
to studying the psychiatric aspects of women’s reproductive health — testified that “[t]he
psychological outcome of abortion is optimized when women are able to make decisions on
the basis of their own values, beliefs, and circumstances, free from pressure or coercion, and
to have those decisions, whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy, supported by their
families, friends, and society in general.”22
In 2010, a study published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health examined the
impact of abortion on adolescents. Researchers found that abortion does not cause either
depression or low self-esteem among young women. Additionally, the study concluded
that “laws mandating that women consider abortion be advised of its psychological risks
may jeopardize women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining women’s
right to informed consent.”23
In February 2012, the Journal of Psychiatric Research published a letter by University of
California, San Francisco Assistant Professor Julia Steinberg and Guttmacher Institute
researcher Lawrence Finer24 detailing the numerous methodological flaws they uncovered
after extensive examination of a 2009 study, published in the same journal that claimed a
causal effect between abortion and negative mental–health outcomes.25 In a rare move, the
journal’s editor-in-chief agreed that the study, led by Priscilla Coleman, professor at
Bowling Green State University was “flawed” and unsupported.26
The Pregnancy Complications Myth
For years, the anti-choice movement has put forward an unproven claim that abortion
severely impacts a woman’s ability to bear children in the future. However, medical
research incorporating studies from 21 countries shows that abortion does not increase the
risk of suffering major pregnancy complications during future pregnancies or deliveries.
There is no added risk of infant mortality or of having a low birth weight infant, nor is there
increased risk of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or miscarriage following an abortion.27
The Breast Cancer Myth
Anti-choice forces have attempted to frighten women into believing that abortion causes
breast cancer, but no credible research supports this claim. In the last few decades, dozens
of studies examining the purported link between abortion services and breast cancer have
been published.
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Cancer examined the records of 267,361
women in nine countries and found no link between abortion and breast cancer, noting that
“the findings provide further unbiased evidence of the lack of an adverse effect of induced
abortion on breast cancer risk.”28
A 2004 study published in The Lancet, reanalyzing data from more than 50 studies,
concluded that women do not have an increased risk of breast cancer if they obtain abortion
care. The authors determined that the previous few studies that had suggested a possible
connection were methodologically flawed.29
An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 similarly concluded that
“induced abortions have no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.”30
In 1999, a study in Denmark analyzed 1.5 million women’s records and “showed absolutely
no effect of abortion on breast cancer.”31
Results from a 2000 epidemiology study confirmed that there is “no excess risk of breast
cancer among women who reported having an induced abortion compared with those who
did not, nor did risk increase with increasing number of reported induced abortions.”32
Independent experts, including the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer
Society, and the World Health Organization, have concluded that a link between abortion
care and breast cancer has not been established.33
In 2009, an opinion from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Committee on Gynecological Practice found that studies continue to “demonstrate no causal
relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.”34
Until 2002, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) posted on its website a fact sheet on
“Abortion and Breast Cancer” in which it discussed the various studies researching the
issue. After a careful analysis of some of the studies, the NIH concluded that there is no
overall association between abortion and breast cancer.
In June 2002, 22 anti-choice members of Congress wrote to Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy Thompson complaining that NIH’s fact sheet expressed the conclusion
that no link between abortion and breast cancer had been established.35 Soon thereafter,
NIH removed its fact sheet from their website. In November 2002, NIH posted a revised
fact sheet on its website in which the agency, without analysis of the studies, merely stated
that the studies are “inconsistent.” In December 2002, pro-choice members of Congress
wrote Secretary Thompson to protest the move, charging the agency with “distort[ing] and
suppress[ing] scientific information for ideological purposes.”36
After lawmakers protested the change, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) convened a
conference to examine the issue. Experts from the scientific community — including
geneticists, epidemiologists, and oncologists — reviewed all existing information and
concluded that “[i]nduced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk.”
The NCI page was updated to reflect this “well-established” conclusion on March 21, 2003.37
Illegal Abortion Endangers Women’s Health
It is estimated that before 1973, 1.2 million U.S. women resorted to illegal abortion each year
and that unsafe illegal abortions caused as many as 5,000 annual deaths.38 Not surprisingly,
anti-choice activists often deny this reality. They point to lower figures tabulated from
death certificates — but their position conveniently ignores several facts. Many deaths from
illegal abortion would go unlabeled as such because of careless or casual autopsies, lack of
experience and ability of autopsy surgeons,39 and simply the shame and fear associated with
abortion’s illegality. According to a 1967 study, illegal abortion was the most common
single cause of maternal mortality in California.40 Doctors who worked in emergency rooms
before 1973, and saw first-hand the consequences of illegal abortion, would be in the best
position to know. Dr. Louise Thomas, a New York City hospital resident during the late
1960s, summed up the dangers of illegal abortion, remembering the “Monday morning
abortion lineup” of the pre-Roe period:
What would happen is that the women would get their paychecks on Friday,
Friday night they would go to their abortionist and spend their money on the
abortion. Saturday they would start being sick and they would drift in on
Sunday or Sunday evening, either hemorrhaging or septic, and they would
be lined up outside the operating room to be cleaned out Monday morning.
There was a lineup of women on stretchers outside the operating room, so
you knew if you were an intern or resident, when you came in Monday
morning, that was the first thing you were going to do.41
Each year, an estimated 42 million women worldwide obtain abortion services to end
unplanned pregnancies; approximately 21 million of them obtain the procedure illegally.42
Complications due to unsafe abortion account for approximately 13 percent of material
deaths worldwide, nearly 50,000 deaths a year.43 Where abortion is illegal, the risk of
complications and maternal mortality is high. In fact, the abortion-related death rate is
hundreds of times higher in developing regions, where the procedure is often illegal, than in
developed countries. 44
In 1994, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that “[s]erious complications and
death from abortion-related infection are almost entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, the
prevention of death from abortion remains more a political than a medical problem.”45
Barriers to Abortion Care Pose Health Risks to Women
Barriers to abortion care endanger women’s health by forcing women to delay the procedure,
compelling them to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, and leading them to seek unsafe and
illegal abortion services.
Major complications from abortion care are more likely to develop the later the procedure
takes place.46 Thus, restrictions on access to abortion and decreases in provider availability
— factors that force women to delay the procedure — endanger women’s health:
Mandatory waiting periods cause women to terminate pregnancies later in term.47
Studies of Mississippi’s mandatory waiting-period law revealed that the proportion
of procedures performed later in pregnancy increased after the law went into effect.48
The American Academy of Pediatrics found that mandatory parental-involvement
laws “increase the risk of harm to the adolescent by delaying access to appropriate
medical care.”49
In recent years, the number of abortion providers has declined precipitously. At
present, 87 percent of all U.S. counties have no identified abortion provider.50 In
1992, in its assessment of the mortality and morbidity of women who terminated
their pregnancy before and after Roe, the American Medical Association’s Council on
Scientific Affairs concluded that “mandatory waiting periods, parental or spousal
consent and notification statutes, a reduction in the number and geographic
availability of abortion providers, and a reduction in the number of physicians who
are trained and willing to perform first- and second-trimester abortions increase the
gestational age at which the induced pregnancy termination occurs, thereby also
increasing the risk associated with the procedure.”51
Abortion restrictions that succeed in forcing women to carry unintended pregnancies to
term expose women to the greater health risks of childbirth against their will:
The mortality rate associated with childbirth is ten times higher than the mortality
rate associated with legal abortion care.52
For adolescents, who account for 18 percent of all abortion services,53 pregnancy and
childbirth may entail significant medical problems. Adolescents younger than age
15 are more likely to experience pregnancy complications, including toxemia,
anemia, and prolonged labor.
Barriers to abortion care, such as restrictions on public funding and parental-involvement
laws, may have deadly consequences:
In 1977, Rosie Jimenez became the first woman known to have died as a result of the
federal Hyde amendment, which restricts funding for abortion services except in the
case of life endangerment, rape, or incest. Jimenez, a 27-year-old single mother and
factory worker who survived on welfare, was unable to afford safe, legal abortion
care. In desperation, she obtained a “back alley” abortion and died of complications.
After her death, a $700 scholarship check meant to help pay for a college education
and teaching credentials was found in her purse.54
The American Medical Association noted that “[b]ecause the need for privacy may
be compelling, minors may be driven to desperate measures to maintain the
confidentiality of their pregnancies. They may run away from home, obtain a ‘back
alley’ abortion, or resort to self-induced abortion. The desire to maintain secrecy has
been one of the leading reasons for illegal abortion deaths since . . . 1973.”55
In 1988, a 17-year-old young woman, Becky Bell, became pregnant. When she
sought an abortion at a women’s health clinic, she was told that under Indiana law,
she first had to obtain the consent of one parent. Afraid to disappoint her parents,
she had an illegal abortion and died from complications one week later.56
If anti-choice forces prevail in their efforts, Dr. Thomas’ experience in the New York hospital
wards during the 1960s and the deaths of women like Rosie Jimenez and Becky Bell are likely to
be repeated. Studies show that the more restrictions are placed on abortion care, the less
accessible the medical procedure becomes. However, history demonstrates that restricted
access does not eliminate abortion; rather, in an anti-choice climate, women are forced to seek
control over their reproductive lives in any way possible, often risking serious injury or death.
Lifting abortion restrictions reduces the number of clandestine, unsafe abortions. Removal of
legal barriers to abortion care would improve women’s health, and spurious claims that
abortion services are dangerous should not be used to justify more restrictions on a woman’s
right to choose.57
January 1, 2014
The NARAL Foundation, Choices: Women Speak Out About Abortion, at 11 (1997).
Stubblefield & Grimes, Septic Abortion, THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE 331, 310 (1994).
Id., at 310 (citing to Henshaw, How Safe is Legal Abortion?, in Teoh et al, PREGNANCY TERMINATION AND
LABOUR, 31-40 (1993).
There were 1,787 abortion providers in 2005, 2% fewer than in 2000. Jones, RK et al., Abortion in the
United States: Incidence and Access to Services,2005, PERSP. ON SEXUAL & REPRO. HEALTH, Mar. 2008,
For example, in October 1999, abortion provider Stephen M. Dixon closed down his District of Columbia
ob/gyn practice, indicating that threats and harassment by anti-abortion activists had taken their toll.
These activists mailed threats to Dixon’s home, placed his photograph on a “wanted poster,” and listed
him on a “Baby Butchers” web site, along with 32 other D.C. physicians and hundreds more across the
country. (In February 1999, a federal jury ordered the creators of the poster and web site to pay over
$107 million to Planned Parenthood of Columbia/Willamette, the Portland Feminist Women’s Health
Center, and certain physicians because of the threats contained in these and other materials.) Dixon
said he had already stopped performing abortions due to the stress caused by anti-abortion terrorism.
In a letter to his patients, Dixon wrote, “Sadly, the ongoing threat to my life and my concern for the
safety of my loved ones has exacted a heavy toll on me, making it necessary that I discontinue
practicing OB-GYN.” Avram Goldstein, Doctor Quits, Cites Antiabortion Threats, WASH. POST, Nov. 4,
1999, at B1; Planned Parenthood of the Columbia/Willamette, Inc. v. American Coalition of Life Activists, 41 F.
Supp. 2d 1130 (D. Or. 1999), aff’d. in part, vacated and remanded in part, 290 F.3d 1058 (9th Cir. 2002), cert.
denied, 123 S. Ct. 2637 (2003).
of Women's Reproductive Rights in the United States (22nd ed. 2013), available at;
Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 127 S. Ct. 1610 (2007).
Phillip G. Stubblefield & David A. Grimes, Septic Abortion, 331 NEW ENG. J. MED. 310 (1994).
Laurie D. Elam-Evans et al., Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Abortion Surveillance – United
States, 1999, 51 MORBIDITY & MORTALITY WEEKLY REP. 1, 28, tbl. 19 (2002).
Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association, Induced Termination of Pregnancy Before and
After Roe v Wade: Trends in the Mortality and Morbidity of Women, 268 JAMA 3231, 3232 (1992).
Guttmacher Institute, In Brief: Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States (Aug. 2011). According to
Guttmacher, “abortions performed in the first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such
problems as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defects and little
or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”
Guttmacher Institute, Sharing Responsibility: Women, Society & Abortion Worldwide, at 32 (1999). These
findings were further supported in a 2007 Lancet article. Gilda Sedgh, Stanley Henshaw, et. al., Induced
abortion: estimated rates and trends worldwide, The Lancet, Volume 370, Issue 9595, Pages 1338 - 1345,
Oct. 13, 2007.
Email from Abigail Long, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, Danco Laboratories, to Rachel
Tabakman, Policy Aide, Policy Department, NARAL Pro-Choice America (September 2010) (on file with
Notes, cont.
NARAL Pro-Choice America); Phone conversation with Abby Long, Director of Marketing of Public
Affairs, Danco Laboratories (Nov. 19, 2008).
E-mail from Dr. Cynthia Summers, Director of Marketing and Public Affairs, Danco Laboratories, to Ali
Rosholt, Legislative Representative, Government Relations, NARAL Pro-Choice America (Jan. 10, 2006)
(on file with NARAL Pro-Choice America).
Population Council, Mifeprex® (Mifepristone) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
See generally NARAL Pro-Choice America, Mifepristone is a Safe Choice, at (last visited Oct. 11,
Letter from C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General, Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., to Ronald Reagan,
President of the United States (Jan. 9, 1989); Rachel Benson Gold, ABORTION AND WOMEN’S HEALTH: A
Nancy E. Adler et al., Psychological Factors in Abortion: A Review, 47 AM. PSYCHOLOGIST 1194, 1202
Brenda Major, et al., Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, AM. PSYCHOLOGICAL
ASSOC. (Aug. 12, 2008), at (last
visited Oct. 11, 2012). This report was updated in a December 2009 article published in the American
Psychologist. The article reaffirmed the findings of the 2008 report. Major, B.; Appelbaum, M.; Beckman,
L.; Dutton, M.; Russo, N.; & West, C., Abortion and mental health: Evaluating the evidence, American
Psychologist, 64(9), 863-890 (Dec. 2009).
(last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
S. Edwards, Abortion Study Finds No Long-Term Ill Effects on Emotional Well-Being, 29 FAM. PLAN. PERSP.
193, 193-94 (1997).
Brenda Major et al., Psychological Responses of Women After First-Trimester Abortion, 57 ARCHIVES GEN.
PSYCHIATRY 777, 777-784 (2000).
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate, Testimony of Dr. Nada Stotland
(Mar. 3, 2004), at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
Jocelyn T. Warren, S. Marie Harvey, and Jillian T. Henderson, Do Depression and Low Self-Esteem Follow
Abortion Among Adolescents? Evidence from a National Survey, 42 PERSPECTIVES ON SEXUAL AND
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH 230, 234 (2010).
Steinberg, J. R. & Finer, L. B., Coleman, Coyle, Shuping, and Rue Make False Statements and Draw Erroneous
Conclusions in Analyses of Abortion and Mental Health Using the National Comorbidity Survey, 46 J.
PSYCHIATRIC. RES., 407-8 (2012).
Coleman, P. K., Coyle, C. T., Shuping, M. & Rue, V. M. Induced Abortion and Anxiety,
Mood, and Substance Abuse Disorders: Isolating the Effects of Abortion in the National Comorbidity
Survey, 43 J. PSYCHOL. RES., 770–776 (2009).
Notes, cont.
Ronald C. Kessler, Alan F. Schatzberg, Commentary on Abortion Studies of Steinberg and Finer (Social
Science & Medicine 2011; 72:72–82) and Coleman (Journal of Psychiatric Research 2009;43:770–6 & Journal of
Psychiatric Research 2011;45:1133–4), 46 J. PSYCHIATRIC. RES., 410-11 (2012).
Carol J.R. Hogue et al., The Effects of Induced Abortion on Subsequent Reproduction, 4 EPIDEMIOLOGIC
REVIEWS 66, 67, 88-9 (1982). Heather Boonstra et. al., Abortion In Women’s Lives, New York,
Guttmacher Institute, 2006.
Breast cancer risk in relation to abortion: Results from the EPIC study, 119 INT’L J. CANCER 1741-45 (2006),
Abortion Seen Not Related to Breast Cancer Risk, REUTERS, Oct. 16, 2006.
Breast Cancer and Abortion: Collaborative Reanalysis of Data from 53 Epidemiological Studies, Including 83,000
Women with Breast Cancer from 16 Countries, 363 LANCET 1007, 1007-16 (2004); Study: No Link Between
Abortion, Breast Cancer, USA TODAY, Mar. 26, 2004, at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
Jane E. Brody, Big Study Finds No Link in Abortion and Cancer: Long-Standing Issue Should Now Be Settled,
N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 9, 1997, at A12; Mads Melbye et al., Induced Abortion and the Risk of Breast Cancer, 336
NEW ENG. J. MED. 81 (1997).
Daniel DeNoon, Should Docs Warn About an Abortion/Breast Cancer Link?, WEBMD MEDICAL NEWS
ARCHIVE, Dec. 5, 2001, at (last visited Oct.
11, 2012).
DeAnn Lazovich et al., Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk, 11 EPIDEMIOLOGY 76, 77 (2000).
National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), Position Statement on Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk (May,
2005);American Cancer Society, Is Abortion Linked to Breast Cancer?, at (last
visited Oct. 11, 2012); World Health Organization, Induced Abortion Does Not Increase Breast Cancer Risk
(June 2000), at
html (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
Induced Abortion and Breast Cancer Risk. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 434. American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2009;113:1417–8.
Jocelyn Kaiser, Nudge From Congress Prompts NCI Review, 297 SCIENCE 171 (2002).
Letter to Secretary Tommy Thompson, U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., Dec. 18, 2002.
Comm. on Gov’t Reform—Minority Staff, Politics and Science in the Bush Administration, U.S. House of
Representatives (Aug. 2003),
at (last visited Oct.
11, 2012); National Cancer Institute, Abortion, Miscarriage, and Breast Cancer Risk (Apr. 2003), at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
The estimated number of deaths from illegal abortion services (e.g. 5,000) has been derived from the
findings of several studies. The following is a summary of these studies: “Difficulty as it is to
accumulate statistics in this area, a surprising similarity has been noted in various studies
independently made within the last thirty years. If general trend observed is accepted, without
Notes, cont.
becoming sidetracked in disputes over exact numbers of methodology, we must consider the
probability that more than one million criminal abortions will have been performed in the United States
in 1962, and more than five thousand women may have died as a direct result.” Zad Leavey & Jerome
M. Krummer, Criminal Abortion: Human Hardship and Unyielding Laws, 35 S. CAL. L. REV. 124 (1962)
(citing to Gebhard, et al, PREGNANCY, BIRTH AND ABORTION 136-137 (1958); Frederick Taussig, ABORTION
PRACTICE 222 (1934); Stix, A Study of Pregnancy Wastage, 13 MILBANK MEMORIAL FUND QUARTERLY 347,
355 (1935); MODEL PENAL CODE § 207.11, comment, p. 147 (Tent. Draft No. 9, 1959.). “It has been
estimated that as many as 5,000 American women die each year as a direct result of criminal abortion.
The figure of 5,000 may be a minimum estimate.” Richard Schwarz, SEPTIC ABORTION 7 (1968) (citing to
Taussig, 23-28, which discusses the original mathematical formula used for determining that
somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 women died each year from illegal abortion.).; “One recent study
at the University of California’s School of Public Health estimated 5,000 to 10,000 abortion deaths
annually.” Lawrence Lader, ABORTION 3 (1966) (also citing to Edwin M. Gold et al, Therapeutic Abortions
in New York City: A Twenty-Year Review, in New York Dept. of Health, Bureau of Records and Statistics
(1963), which discussed Dr. Christopher Tietze’s estimate of nearly 8,000 deaths from illegal abortion
annually in the United States. The estimate was based on the number of illegal abortions in New York
City, the only major municipality keeping abortion statistics.); “[M]ore than five thousand women may
have died as a direct result [of criminal abortion in the United States in 1962].” Zad Leavy & Jerome M.
Kummer, Criminal Abortion: Human Hardship and Unyielding Laws, 35 S. CAL. L. REV. 123, 124 (1962);
“Taussig and others have concluded that the abortion death rate during the late 1920s was about 1.2%
and amounted to over 8,000 deaths per year.” Russell S. Fisher, Criminal Abortion, in Harold Rosen,
Zad Leavey & Jerome M. Krummer, Criminal Abortion: Human Hardship and Unyielding Laws, 35
S. CAL. L. REV. 123, 124 (1962).
Leon Parrish Fox, Abortion Deaths in California, 98 AM. J. OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY 645, 650 (1967).
WADE 60 (1995).
World Health Organization (WHO), Unsafe Abortion: Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of
Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, at 1 (2011).
Guttmacher Institute, Facts on induced Abortion Worldwide (Jan. 2012) at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
Guttmacher Institute, Facts on induced Abortion Worldwide (Jan. 2012) at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012); WHO, Unsafe Abortion:
Global and Regional Estimates of the Incidence of Unsafe Abortion and Associated Mortality in 2008, at 5 (2011).
Phillip G. Stubblefield & David A. Grimes, Septic Abortion, 331 NEW ENG. J. MED. 313 (1994).
Guttmacher Institute, Facts on induced Abortion Worldwide (Jan. 2012) at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012); Rachel Benson Gold,
Abortion and Women's Health: A Turning Point for America?, Guttmacher Institute, New York, at 31 (1990).
Frances A. Althaus & Stanley K. Henshaw, The Effects of Mandatory Delay Laws On Abortion Patients and
Providers, 26 FAM. PLAN. PERSP. 228, 231 (1994).
Notes, cont.
The study showed that Mississippi women whose closest abortion provider was an in-state facility,
subject to the mandatory delay law, would be more likely to have an abortion later in pregnancy than
they would have been before Mississippi passed the law. Mississippi women who had more convenient
access to an out-of-state facility not subject to the mandatory delay law also ended up having abortions
later following the law’s enactment, but to a smaller degree. Ted Joyce & Robert Kaestner, The Impact of
Mississippi’s Mandatory Delay Law on the Timing of Abortion, 32 FAM. PLAN. PERSP. 4, 12 (2000). In April,
2009, a report was released detailing the findings of an extensive literature review on the subject. The
report reaffirmed that the impact of Mississippi’s “mandatory counseling and waiting period statute—
with its requirement that all counseling be done in person 24 hours prior to an induced termination—
was associated with a decline in the abortion rate, a rise in abortions obtained out of state and an
increase in the proportion of second-trimester abortions.” Joyce TJ et al., The Impact of StateMandatory
Counseling and Waiting Period Laws on Abortion: A Literature Review, New York: Guttmacher Institute,
2009, at 15.
American Acad. of Pediatrics, The Adolescent’s Right to Confidential Care When Considering Abortion, 97
PEDIATRICS 746 (1996).
Jones, RK et al., Abortion in the United States: Incidence and Access to Services, 2005, PERSP. ON SEXUAL &
REPRO. HEALTH, Mar. 2008, 40(1):6-16. (noting that 35 percent of women age 15 to 44 were living in a
county with no abortion provider in 2005).
Council on Scientific Affairs, American Med. Ass’n, Induced Termination of Pregnancy Before and After
Roe v Wade: Trends in the Mortality and Morbidity of Women, 268 JAMA 3231, 3238 (1992).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Pregnancy-Related Mortality Survellance – United States,
1991-1999 (Feb. 2003) at (last visted Oct.
11, 2012); Council on Scientific Affairs, American Med. Ass’n, Induced Termination of Pregnancy Before and
After Roe v Wade: Trends in the Mortality and Morbidity of Women, 268 JAMA 3231, 3235 (1992).
Guttmacher Institute, Facts on induced Abortion Worldwide (Jan. 2012) at (last visited Oct. 11, 2012).
Marie Cocco, Hyde Amendment’s Deadly Impact, ALB. TIMES UNION, Apr. 23, 2005, at A9; Michael Putzel,
Officials Say Four Deaths Resulted from Cutoff of Federal Abortion Funds, ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 11, 1980.
Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Med. Ass’n, Mandatory Parental Consent to Abortion,
269 JAMA 82, 83 (1993).
The NARAL Foundation, Choices: Women Speak Out About Abortion, at 11 (1997).
Anne Tinker & Marjorie A. Koblinsky, World Bank Discussion Papers: Making Motherhood Safe, at 40-41